I realise that I’m probably lining myself up to be lynched, but I just don’t get brown cars. Not seriously, anyway. To me brown is a colour you give to a car that you want to be joked about. It’s a colour for an old Lada or something that crumbled five minutes after leaving a British Leyland factory.
But it’s back in, these days. The first inkling I had of what was happening was back in 2011, when I went to the launch of the Mercedes SLS AMG Roadster. A few other journalists and I were standing beside a Mercedes events staffer debating the merits (and otherwise) of a brown SLS that was on display. We asked this young Italian woman which colour she’d have, and before we’d even finished the question she said “brown, definitely,” with a succinct nod. I was stunned.
Since then, manufacturers have been drip-feeding the market with brown cars, and suddenly they’re everywhere, from cheap Fiats to very un-cheap Porsches. Am I the only one who wants it all to quietly go away?
I’ll concede that the dark days of the 1970s brown era, which should have been enough to kill the colour off for good, have long gone, and the latest metallic painting technology means that modern brown efforts shimmer in the sunlight in a way that the sad, drab efforts of yesteryear could only dream of, but even the manufacturers secretly seem to know that brown isn’t a great shade to be painting a car.
What I mean by that is that ‘brown’ almost never features in colour names. It’s always ‘mocha’ this, ‘bronze’ that. But whether it’s Coffee Nonsense or Awful Oak the end result is brown, and brown is an undesirable thing to name a colour. Brown, the colour of earth, associated with simplicity and humility. Desirable qualities, perhaps, in many walks of life, but on your car? Please. Give me a proper colour, any day.
Fortunately no one is forcing me, or anyone else, to buy one, so I know I shouldn’t really be moaning. But that doesn’t stop me throwing up in my mouth a bit every time I pass a brown car. The one mitigating factor I’d offer in brown’s defence is that at least it’s not white. White is the colour you choose when either you don’t want to pay for the optional metallics or you have literally zero imagination. Okay, some cars look decent enough in white, but show me a car that doesn’t look better in a red, a blue, an orange, a yellow or a green, etc. Even the Fiat 500, which pulls-off white pretty well, still looks far better in bolder paint.
Let’s not forget, either, that white is second only to black on the list of colours not to choose if you ever want your car to look clean for more than five minutes. At least dust and dirt tends to be camouflaged among the depression of a brown car.
That’s just my tuppence, anyway. Tell me: am I right, or do I need to find a safehouse until this all blows over?